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This is a report to the Senior Environmental Health Practitioner (SEHP)on a routine food hygiene inspection. The report will outline the conditions present in the food establishment that violate the food hygiene legislation and regulations. This report will look at the powers that EPH has and the levels of interventions available. The report will discuss the contraventions and recommend the appropriate level of intervention that must be undertaken to ensure public safety. During the visit, photographs of the conditions in the establishment will be taken to assist in writing the report and giving the necessary interventions. Conclusions and recommendations will be made at the end of the paper.
The Food Law in the UK is enforced at different levels. Centrally, the Food Standard Agency (FSA) and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are mandated with enforcing food regulations. Locally, the food laws are enforced and monitored by the local authorities (FSA 2008, p. 10). The FSA is empowered to strengthen the enforcement of food standards and make sure all the national objectives are fulfilled.
It also sets the standards and monitors that all food regulations are adhered to by all businesses. FSA also publishes all information relating to food standards and prepares all regulations connected with food safety. The local authorities mandated with enforcing food regulations in the UK include the councils within England, port health authorities, and unitary authorities in Scotland and Wales (FSA 2008, para. 1). The main food legislations in the UK and Europe include the Food Safety Act 1990, the Food Law Regulation (EC) No 178/2002, the Food Hygiene Regulations 2006, and the Regulation (EC) No 183/2005 (FSA 2007, p. 5).
All these acts aim at ensuring that public health and consumers’ food interests are protected. These regulations guarantee that food is safe, fits for human consumption, and cannot cause any health hazards. The regulations also ensure that food safety is maintained at all the stages, such as processing, production, and distribution. The laws also make sure that consumers are not misled by enforcing proper presentation, labeling, and advertising of food. The regulations allow unsafe food to be recalled if it was already sold or withdrawn from the market (FSA 2008, p. 10).
The Code of Practice found in different sections of the various food Acts in the UK provides guidelines that food authorities in England must follow during enforcement and execution of food legislation. This code guides all food authorities when they are discharging their duties. Food authorities are mandated with ensuring that all government acts relating to food are adhered to within the UK. Food authorities rely on authorized officers to efficiently perform these duties. These officers must be familiar with the law as they are expected to enforce and seek guidance if they do not understand it fully.
Most parts of England have both the County Council and District Food Authorities. It is essential that the two bodies effectively work together to ensure that public food safety is guaranteed. The FSA has not specified whether the County Council or District Council is responsible for carrying out enforcement and inspections that relate to food production. However, in most parts of England, any of the two can investigate and take action against any food contamination by microorganisms and toxins. An exception to this rule is if chemical contamination is noted during an inspection in an establishment during the primary production phase.
If the chemical contaminants found during the inspection may create an imminent danger to community health, the District Council is supposed to investigate and formulate an enforcement action, but it should still work closely with the County Council Food Authority. Food authorities normally deal with the matters that arise within their area of authority. However, provisions by specific food allow authorized food authority officers to have exercise power in other jurisdictions regarding food establishments. Such food officers are expected to liaise with the local food authority and hand in their reports and recommendations to them.
Inspection and enforcement of food regulations are carried out by qualified authorized officers. They can inspect processes, premises, and records as well as collect food samples for further analysis or examination. They can also copy or confiscate any pertinent records and/or take visual records including videos and photographs. The officers are also allowed to implement any intervention strategies they deem necessary to improve public health.
They are various enforcement options that officers can choose ranging from sampling, informal action, educating the operators, seizing and detaining food, and giving hygiene improvement notices to prohibition and prosecution procedures. Unless there is a significant risk to public health, officers are advised to take moderate and educative actions, such as informal action before taking any formal ones. They can only undertake a formal action if they are sure that the informal one will not solve the problem at hand.
Report on Inspection
The inspection photographs show rat droppings under equipment, dirty equipment, rat feet marks and teeth in a cooking tray, a dirty wash hand basin, and a dirty broken freezer in the storeroom. All these unhygienic conditions present in the food establishment can cause serious health hazards to the public. The use of dirty equipment in preparing food and filthy washbasins can lead to food poisoning and contamination of foodstuff prepared in the venue.
The presence of rat droppings and rat teeth in the premises shows that the place is infested with rats that can cause serious contamination to food prepared and served in the establishment. Rats are the vectors that transmit illnesses from one place to another and should not be present in any food establishment. The broken freezer in the storeroom will not regulate the temperature of the food stored and can sustain the development of pathogenic microorganisms or encourage the growth of toxins.
All the above conditions contravene the Food Safety Act 1990 (FSA) that was put into place to ensure that all food meets the health expectation and does not cause any harm to the public. Section 7 of this Act that is the Food Business Operator is also contravened since it states clearly that food should not be dangerous to the health of the consumers (FSA 2007, p. 5). The premises were using unhygienic equipment and preparing food in places contaminated with rat droppings. The infestation of rats which is a disease-causing vector can lead to detrimental health effects on people who consume food prepared on the premises.
The unhygienic conditions in the premises also contradict with the (EC) 178/2002 which was laid down by the Council and the European Parliament. This regulation outlines the food law requirements and principles and states the procedure to be followed in matters concerning food safety. The main aim of the regulation is to ensure human health and the consumers’ interests in the issues relating to food protection. Article 14 of the regulation prohibits any food that is not fit for human consumption or can cause harm to health from being put on the market. This article applies to anyone selling or supplying food (Jukes 2004, p. 228)
Level of intervention
After a close analysis of the conditions present in the premises, I would recommend the use of Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Procedures found in the 2006 Food Hygiene Regulations of England. I would advise that the premises would be issued with a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice due to the risky health conditions that would be present in the premises. According to the regulation, the authorized officer can appropriately use prohibition powers if premises have certain health risk conditions (FSA 2012, p. 56).
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In this case, some of the conditions in the premises, such as an infestation of mice or rats, can lead to real contamination of food or significantly increase the threat of contamination warrant for the prohibition of premises. The premises include rat teeth, droppings, and marks, a clear indication of rat or mice infestation. Consequently, poor equipment and structural conditions, as well as poor cleaning and maintenance, can lead to accumulation of filth, thus contaminating food or increasing the risk of contamination significantly, and warrant a prohibition notice (FSA 2012, p. 58).
The dirty cooking equipment, such as a freezer and poorly maintained washbasin, are a clear indication that the risk of contamination is high, thus a prohibition warrant is necessary. The use of defective equipment, such as the freezer in the storeroom which is broken and thus, cannot maintain the appropriate temperature, allows using a prohibition procedure (FSA 2012, p. 59). The premise’s conditions increase the risk of contamination, thus the issuance of a Hygiene Emergency Prohibition Notice is justifiable.
From the above literature, one can conclude that several Acts have been passed in the UK and Europe to protect public health from any risk that is associated with food contamination. The FSA is mandated with enforcing and formulating food regulations within the UK with the help of local and District Food authorities. Qualified authorized officers bound by the Code of Ethics help in enforcing and investigating food safety regulations within England.
These authorized officers can propose various interventions if they establish that premises have conditions that contravene public health. The interventions are either formal or informal depending on the seriousness of contamination in premises after an inspection. Officers can recommend improvement notices or prohibitory, voluntary, or prosecution procedures depending on the magnitude of the health risk conditions in the premises.
FSA, 2008, Food Law Code of Practice (England) – pp 1-182.
FSA, 2012, Food Law Practice Guidance, pp 1-241.
FSA, 2007, A guide to compliance with Articles 14, 16, 18 and 19 of General Food Law Regulation (EC) 178/2002, pp 1-27.
FSA, 2010, Regulation and legislation. Web.
Jukes, D 2004, “Corrigendum to Regulation (EC) No 852/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the hygiene of foodstuffs”, Official Journal of the European Union, vol. 25 no. 6, pp. 226-250.